Sunday, April 17, 2011

Video Games Help Stroke Victims Rehab Motor Functions

A new study has found promise in the use of gaming in stroke rehabilitation. With the assistance of motion gaming devices such as the Eye Toy and the Wii, motor function of stroke patients in rehab programs improved by an average of 20 percent. Arm strength increased by nearly 15 percent, with nearly five times the chance for improvement. For all the technical info on the study, head over to Bloomberg Businessweek.
"Stroke rehabilitation is rapidly evolving," said Lead Researcher Dr. Gustavo Saposnik, director of the Stroke Outcomes Research Unit at St. Michael's Hospital at the University of Toronto. "Novel approaches -- including the use of virtual reality [gaming] systems -- may help improve motor impairment, activities and social participation. Virtual reality may provide an affordable, enjoyable and effective alternative to intensify treatment and promote motor recovery after stroke."
Conventional therapy provides only "modest and sometimes delayed effects" in treating the weakness, paralysis, balance and coordination difficulties that most stroke victims experience, according to Saposnik.
Video gaming is custom-tailored to help remodel the brain through challenging, task-specific, motivating actions that are repeated enough to create the new neural connections needed to get back functionality after a brain injury.
"Our study confirms the potential benefit of virtual reality in stroke rehabilitation identified in small studies," Saposnik said. "Further larger randomized trials are needed before changing practice. However, we are [going] in the right direction."  more read...